30. You’ll see it

Meditations in Deuteronomy : 30 :  You’ll see it

(Focus: Deut 11:8-15)

Deut 11:8,9 Observe therefore all the commands I am giving you today, so that you may have the strength to go in and take over the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, and so that you may live long in the land that the LORD swore to your forefathers to give to them and their descendants, a land flowing with milk and honey.

We have commented before that Moses encourages and exhorts by looking back and by looking forward. In the first seven verses of chapter 11 he looked back to remind them of what they had seen and heard. Now he exhorts and encourages by looking forward to them going in an taking the land.

He starts it off with this intriguing instruction: observe all the commands so that “you may have the strength to go in and take over the land.” Now why should obedience to the laws bring them strength and courage? Well, first, there may be a psychological dimension to that. When you feel good about something you feel strong and capable. If they feel good about their relationship with the Lord, then that may naturally give them a good feeling that is expressed in strength and courage. The second thing, is that it may well be that when they are in a close relationship with the Lord, He is able to impart strength to them. Years later in the book of Judges we see a number of times that when the Spirit of the Lord came upon a man it brought physical strength and courage. The power and presence of the Lord did bring literal changes to a man.

But there is also a second part to the outworkings of obedience:so that you may live long in the land” Obedience will also bring the blessing of security and long life. If they stick to God’s design rules, the Law,  then the Lord will look after them and protect them in the land, and grant them long healthy lives.

Now note that as soon as he starts mentioning the Land, he moves into descriptive mode, saying encouraging things about this land. First of all it is a land flowing with milk and honey.” Milk comes from the cattle they keep while honey comes from the bees that make it from the lushness of the plant life in the land. These are shorthand descriptions of a land that is good, fruitful and bountiful. This is a good land! Then he makes a comparison again: “The land you are entering to take over is not like the land of Egypt, from which you have come, where you planted your seed and irrigated it by foot as in a vegetable garden.” (v.10)  This land, he continues, is going to be different from Egypt. There to create plant life you had to walk the land to cultivate it and water it. Water was not plentiful so you had to carry it to your plants like a vegetable garden. It was hard work, but this new land is going to be different: “the land you are crossing the Jordan to take possession of is a land of mountains and valleys that drinks rain from heaven. It is a land the LORD your God cares for; the eyes of the LORD your God are continually on it from the beginning of the year to its end. (v.11,12) No, this new land is quite different. It has mountains and valleys and rainfall and that means plenty of vegetation, lush vegetation. It’s a land that receives the blessing of God on it from one end of the year to the other. This is a very different land from that which they have experienced so far; it’s going to be a really good land.

The end product of their obedience will be the promise of the Lord’s ongoing blessing on it: “then I will send rain on your land in its season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and oil. I will provide grass in the fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied.” (v.14,15) Rain in two seasons will mean it is truly a bountiful land and that for a farmer can be equated with riches and well-being. That is the promise of this new land, that is what they have got to look forward to. But of course it IS conditional on their obedience so that “you faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today–to love the LORD your God and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.” (v.13)

Now when you consider all the wonderful pictures of the land that have just been painted, there shouldn’t  need to be a stick to drive them to obedience, the wonder of this provision should be adequate motivation to help them along. It is not as if the laws are difficult, for they are not. Similarly today, if people grumble about ‘having to keep rules’ it simply means that they have not understood the wonder of the provision of salvation that comes through Jesus Christ. The wonder of God’s love – when we have eyes to see it – should be more than enough to help us live holy and righteous lives. Indeed, the ‘rules’ of the New Testament are really all different expressions of loving God and loving your fellow man, and once you see the wonder of God’s love, expressing that love back and outwards to others is not difficult. it is not onerous being a child of God; it is a wonderful blessing! Hallelujah!

 

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